Marc Freedman is one of those people who seems to have figured out how to make a network of 17,000+ contacts on LinkedIn actually workable. While I normally tend to discourage building a huge network by linking to people you don’t know, there are a few people for whom I can see that as a viable strategy, namely, a) professional networkers (like Marc, who runs the DallasBlue Network), recruiters, venture capitalists, and anyone else who are essentially deal brokers, and the bulk of their work is spent finding and making deals, and b) people trying to raise awareness of a mass-market product or service, like perhaps professional bloggers, or in Marc’s case, peer-to-peer file sharing software.
I do have some concerns about the impact of a large number of people engaging in this practice – I believe it erodes the “people you know and trust” promise of LinkedIn, so it’s not a practice I advocate. On the other hand, it’s hard to argue with success stories like this one that Marc shared on the Yahoo Groups about how he was able to leverage his extensive network to help one of his employees. In the interest of “equal time”, and promoting LinkedIn success stories, I’m reposting it here (with permission):
I want to share the following LinkedIn success story with everyone and thank those who responded.
I have a good friend and employee in Buenos Aires, Argentina whose family dog Axel was quite ill. The pooch needed special vitamins and didn’t react well to the local formula. A superior version was available in the U.S. a click away at Amazon. I bought and re-shipped it to him, the shipping cost ironically outweighing the purchase price. Err, not so fast. I learn after the fact that thanks to the illegal drug trade, Argentine customs requires an Import license for any medical or food products. The vitamins didn’t reach my friend and were likely dumped.
How could I save Axel? I didn’t have a clue. …. But I figure there were others who did.
I turned to my LinkedIn network of course! I started with Arnnei’s excellent LinkedIn Contact Manager to find well over 100 people I was connected to who were in Argentina. I did a supplementary LinkedIn search to find another 20 people I was connected to in the US who had lived or worked in Argentina. I contacted my connections. The response was overwhelming. One person had an ex-boss who was flying to Buenos Aires the next week! Others referred Argentine medical labs, pharmacies, web sites, the US consulate, and a relative who was a chemist to help.
If I had a few hundred connections instead of many thousand, I would not have had this success.
While I’ve made the decision not to provide permanent links in the sidebar to resources advocating the “bigger is better” approach, I’ll go ahead and provide some links here. If you’re willing to dedicate the time and think that kind of approach would work for you, check out Marc’s LinkedIn sites, MyLinkWiki and MyLinkPro. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn.